Responsible Pet Ownership

Pet ownership comes with many responsibilities, the biggest being financial. Pets cost money, and not just to buy them, but to care for them.

Cost of a Pet

Be sure to do your homework before you purchase the pet you are longing to have–sometimes the long term costs and commitments are not always expected. For example, a Blue and Gold Macaw costs approximately $3500 to purchase. The cage is $2500, food is $100 per month, initial veterinary costs are $500 for laboratory tests to confirm health and sex. Ongoing veterinary costs are approximately $500-$1000 per year depending on the health of the bird. Macaws can live for 80-100 years. If this Macaw lives 75 years your total cost is $171,000 over 75 years (without inflation.)

For a dog, costs are similar but for a shorter amount of time. A dog can cost $500-2500 to purchase or adopt. Initial training classes for 1 year are $1000. Food is $100 per month and veterinary costs will be $500-$1000 depending on the health of the dog. Crates, beds, toys, blankets, leashes, and collars are $400, some of these items will be replaced yearly to every other year so figure $100 ongoing per year. A dog lives for 10-15 years. Cost over 12 years is $32,000. 

Hidden Costs

These numbers do not take into account damages. Pets eat things and damage property frequently. Your bird may eat your cabinet, your dog may eat your table or favorite comforter. Those will need to be repaired or replaced. If you go on vacation, you will need pet care while you are away, most places cost between $30-100 per day for pet care per pet. Don’t forget emergencies either, your dog ate a sock or a your bird ate your earring…surgical care for a pet related emergency can cost $5000-$7500 and that money must be paid up front at the time of the emergency. 

Pet insurance can help defray the costs of pet emergencies. Nationwide has policies for exotic and traditional pets. Trupanion work with dogs and cats only. These policies must be in affect BEFORE anything happens so signing your pet up for pet insurance is a priority the day you get your pet! Pet insurance costs a monthly premium determined by your pet, your plan and your deductible. Do your math and make sure you can afford pet insurance. I recommend pet insurance for anyone who cannot come up with $5000-$7500 immediately. Pet emergencies happen all the time and pet insurance gives you peace of mind. 

Who has Financial Responsibility

Before purchasing a pet, be aware of the initial and ongoing costs. Being a responsible pet owner means having the time to commit as well as the money. Owning a pet is a luxury, be sure you are financially prepared and mentally prepared to add this responsibility to your life. As a veterinarian, I see many pet owners making the decision of euthanasia for a pet that can be fixed but there is no financial means to make it happen. The veterinarian is there to fix your pet because he/she has the knowledge and expertise to do so.  It is not the veterinarian’s financial responsibility to fix your pet, it’s yours